Over the past few days. There has been a great deal of media coverage of the Far Right lunatic theory that long-planned military exercises in western Texas are a cover for a planned federal takeover of the state.
Supposedly some shuttered Walmarts have been leased by the federal government for use as detention centers, and beneath those stores, networks of secret tunnels are being created.
It is, of course, completely pointless to try to highlight all of the ways in which this exhibition of rampant paranoia is completely nonsensical, but one can start with the very basic fact that the federal government does not have to seize Texas because Texas is already part of the United States.
I can see how there might be confusion on that point for those hundreds of thousands of Texans who have repeatedly signed secession petitions and who might therefore think that Texas has actually declared its independence.
That said, none of this would have gotten any mainstream media attention—except that Greg Abbott, the Governor of Texas, made a public point of ordering the Texas National Guard to monitor the activities of the national military. (Rick Perry is starting to look like a real intellect—and it’s not just the nerdy glasses.)
So, among other things, this incident provides a perfect illustration of how the deluded obsessions of the Far Right’s lunatic fringe become inexplicably mainstreamed. This is how the “birther” stuff started.
Likewise, the NRA’s rhetoric about President Obama’s ideological determination to overturn the Second Amendment has been fed by the widespread conviction on the lunatic fringe of the Far Right that for seven years President Obama has been incessantly on the verge of seizing every firearm in the country. Never mind that the impending seizures never occur and that the predictions have proven no more reliable than those that the world will end on a certain date. A small percentage of Americans have been stockpiling weapons and ammunition in enormous quantities in response to the threat.
And one might reasonably ask how the response mitigates the threat. For, if the government were, indeed, determined to seize all weapons, those people would simply be insuring that they would have a lot more to lose. And if they think that the extra guns and ammunition will somehow allow them to resist the seizure of their weapons, they should watch more YouTube videos of our military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although I am sure that some of them have guns that can stop a charging grizzly bear, how effective are those guns going to be against drones?
What the media coverage of this latest “news” from Texas has not included is the broader and much more longstanding paranoia behind it.
In 2008, President Obama supported not just the strengthening of our Homeland Security agencies and state and local police forces, but the expansion of federally supported activist groups that would help to reduce the socio-economic causes of political radicalization. Specifically, he proposed a major expansion of Americorps and Teach for America. All of these efforts taken together, he asserted, would constitute a “civilian national security force.”
Ever since, the lunatic fringe of the Far Right has been framing this largely forgotten speech as Obama’s announcement of his intention to form something akin to the Nazi Stormtroopers—the S.A. or “Brown Shirts”—who brought Hitler to power under the leadership of Ernst Roehm.
It takes almost nothing for this specter to be reanimated.
In response to the unrest in Baltimore and the succession of killings of young black men by police in cities across the country, Al Sharpton suggested that some more direct national oversight of community policing might be needed.
Here’s how World Net Daily then connected all of the dots:
“In talking about his plans to double the size of the Peace Corps and nearly quadruple the size of AmeriCorps and the size of the nation’s military services, [President Obama] made this rather shocking (and chilling) pledge: ‘We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.’
“’Now, since I’ve never heard anyone inside or out of government use the phrase ‘civilian national security force’ before, I was more than a little curious about what he has in mind,’ [Joseph Farrah of WND] wrote.
“’What does it mean?’
“Farah pointed out that a ‘massive but secret national police force that will be even bigger than the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force put together” would be startling.
“’The U.S. Army alone has nearly 500,000 troops. That doesn’t count reserves or National Guard. In 2007, the U.S. Defense budget was $439 billion. Is Obama serious about creating some kind of domestic security force bigger and more expensive than that?’ he wrote.
“[Rush] Limbaugh explained what the nationalization of police and the ‘social justice’ emphasis by the [Baltimore] prosecutor, mean.
“’I think the legal system–what Rev. Sharpton meant here in the first sound bite, I’m gonna go ahead and say this, what Rev. Sharpton is talking about is looting the legal system. When he talks about a national takeover of policing in this country, he’s talking about looting the legal system.’”
In case you are having any difficulty getting the gist of Limabuagh’s argument, here is a somewhat fuller account of it:
“Limbaugh said that with the state’s attorney’s announcement Friday of counts against six police officers for the in-custody death of Freddie Gray, justice in America is becoming ‘social justice.’
“’If you’ve heard the term “social justice” bandied about over the course of your life and wondered what it really mean, aside from another way of expressing liberalism, the press conference today by Ms. Mosby, the state attorney, pretty much defines social justice as opposed to real justice,’ Limbaugh said.
“’Get Police State U.S.A. and get author Cheryl Chumley’s take on why in 10 years, “Our kids won’t know the America of our youth.”’”